The issue of grammar schools is back in the news after Theresa May somehow became convinced that they were A Very Good Thing, despite many of her MPs either having reservations about the idea, or being firmly opposed. Over at the Baby Shard Bunker, though, there is no such equivocation: Ms May is supported wholeheartedly by the Sun’s motley band of hacks and pundits, and so therefore are grammar schools.
This support extends to making claims about grammar schools that are not actually true, which should surprise no-one, but is mentioned in passing to show just how fervent the support of the Murdoch Mafiosi has suddenly become. Also backing grammars, if only to put the boot in on the North which he hates so much - the feeling’s mutual - has been disgraced former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, aka Kelvin McFilth.
Kel does not lower himself to actually discussing the merits of grammar schools; this is taken as read as he tells “I FEAR the North-South divide is going to grow. This time it won’t be defined by wealth but by IQ … It’s clear that the South of England is grabbing the excellent idea of more grammar schools with both hands … Already councils running Windsor And Maidenhead, Central Bedfordshire, Thurrock, Essex, Northamptonshire, Kent and Sutton in Surrey have plans to create schools that select by ability”.
That does not mean they intend to create them - and of course Kent still has grammars, of which more later. But do go on. “Those of you who did well in geography will notice there is one area missing from that list. It’s called the North … You don’t hear a word of support from the councils on Merseyside or Manchester. Hopeless twerps like mayoral hopefuls Andy Burnham (Manchester) and the awful Steve Rotheram (Liverpool) would die in a ditch to stop your bright kids going to a grammar”.
That would be the same Andy Burnham who went from a state comprehensive school to Cambridge University, unlike Kel who was educated privately, and, er, didn’t. And the same Steve Rotheram who has a masters degree and has run his own company. Unlike Kelvin McFilth. But enough of the grammar school propaganda: let’s have some facts.
Kel was never all that good at sums
Kent still has grammar schools. So BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook compared the county’s GCSE successes with the national average, to give us an idea of what we might expect. The result should be considered carefully by all Sun readers, because what it shows is that Kelvin McFilth and many others have been selling them a pup.
In Kent, pupils from the most well-off families get GCSE grades better than the national average. But for the poorest, they do worse. In fact, around half the population in Kent does worse than the national average. And that is what Kelvin McFilth calls an “excellent idea”. But then, he thought abusing the Hillsborough victims was an excellent idea, too.
The myth of grammar schools will not help most Sun readers’ kids one bit. They are being sold a complete pack of lies. Don’t buy the Sun.